Buying a new toilet might not be as easy as you think.
There are several things that you should take into consideration before you open your wallet.
Otherwise, you could be flushing your hard-earned cash down the toilet, as it were.
There are a few questions you should be asking yourself before you head to the store to make your purchase. The list of possibilities seems lengthy once you start to really research the toilet that is right for your household:
- Do I want an elongated toilet bowl or a round one? (yes, shape matters)
- What toilet color would be the best choice for my bathroom? (many toilet colors to choose from)
- Do I need/want an extra wide toilet seat? (wider is better for bigger bums)
- What’s the ideal toilet height? (comfort height is 16″-19″, standard height is 14″-15″)
- Do I want a single flush or dual flush toilet? (dual flush will save more water)?
- What is the rough-in distance? (distance in inches from the bolts to the wall; most toilets are 12″, but there’s also 10″ and 14″)
- Do I want a gravity-assisted toilet tank or a pressure-assisted one? (gravity-fed models last longer)
- Which is better, a 1-piece toilet design or 2-piece? (2-piece toilets are the most common)
- Does the toilet meet WaterSense standards for water efficiency? (ideally, you want a toilet that meets HET standards)
- Does it pass some sort of flush test? (more below)
Toilet Flush Tests
The flush test issue is a great question!!!
It’s one of the best questions you should be asking yourself.
Actually, it’s a two-parter:
- How much will the toilet flush?
- Does it get the job done using 1.6 gallons/flush (the legal limit), or less?
You might want to consider a toilet that uses 1.3 gallons/flush, 1.0 gl, or even 0.8 gl models. The technology is there for a very efficient toilet.
There are a couple of different sites for reliable flush test results and water efficiency criteria that you should look into:
- WaterSense – in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; find toilets that meet their water-saving standards
- Maximum Performance (MaP) – began in response to complaints about the first low-flow toilets in the 1990s; standards that are widely accepted by plumbing manufacturers and consumers alike
- Consumer Reports (pay site) – unbiased research in an effort to help consumers make the best decisions
Keep in mind, different testing facilities use different products for fecal simulation. For example, some testing firms and manufacturers will flush potatoes down the toilet to simulate capacity. That seems a bit ridiculous — because if you’ve got a potato-sized nugget exiting your body, you’ve got issues. Get real!
But you know what? Maximum Performance (MaP) is a one-stop-shop of sorts that gives you all of the info you need. The best part is that it’s free to research toilets to your heart’s content.
MaP Toilet Ratings
I like the methods and protocol that MaP uses to test toilets for capacity:
- They make their own soybean paste (media).
- Then put it through an extruding device (I accidentally typed “exturding”…whoops!…maybe that’s what it should be called in this case) to create 6” cylinders.
- They put various amounts of soy paste media in a toilet and catch the soy material in a colander under the toilet when they flush it.
- They weigh the material to make sure it has all passed through.
- They end up with varying amounts of media that are flushed in order to record what a toilet will consistently flush without any issues.
You should look for a toilet to pass the 500 gram test.
They have tests that flush up to 2 pounds of media. That’s a lot of yoohoo and exceeds what the average human will…well…you get the idea. This is The FUN Times Guide to HomeBuilding… not The Gross Times Guide to HomeBuilding!
MaP goes one step further by dropping the soy media in a specific spot in the bowl to simulate real-life conditions. After the media is dropped into the bowl, they add 4 wads of toilet paper. Yes, there are photos of this procedure.
Are you ready for this?… There are even videos of MaP toilet tests in action. WARNING: Visually, it’s kind of gross. But it’s as real as it’s going to get without using the real thing. I wouldn’t want this job… sorry!
Figuring out which toilets pass the Maximum Performance (MaP) test is very easy to do. Simply go to the MaP search page and check off all the features you’re looking for in a toilet. Hit search, and there you have it — all of the toilets that meet your criteria.
Any laboratory may perform MaP testing on a toilet, but there are strict Terms and Conditions that must be adhered to.
Occasionally, manufacturers will make slight changes to toilet models that are sold through different retailers. This may alter the efficiency of the toilet that was tested. MaP will perform field audits for the following reasons:
- There is evidence that toilets sold at retail outlets are materially different from the ones originally tested by a MaP-approved laboratory.
- Original MaP testing was conducted more than 4 years previous.
- Consumer complaints suggest that a toilet model is performing well below the level indicated by its MaP testing score.
They want the integrity of the results to remain intact and correct to the best of their knowledge.
Now it really shouldn’t take that long to figure out which toilet meets your needs. The trouble will be locating the model you want in a store. Match the model number exactly as it appears in the ratings on the MaP site and you should be good to go… literally.
Before You Buy A New Toilet…
- Consumer Reports Flushes Out The Best Toilet Models
- Tips For Buying A New Toilet From Family Handyman
- Consumer Search Toilet Ratings
- Don’t Buy The Wrong Toilet: 10 Features To Avoid
- Consumer Reports Toilet Buying Guide
- DIY Network: How To Remove And Replace A Toilet